Alexander Elliot’s (Louis Ashbourne Serkis) biggest problems are homework and the school bullies Lance (Tom Taylor) and Kaye (Rihanna Doris). That is until one
‘The Kid Who Would Be King’, written and directed by Joe Cornish, makes its screen debut eight years after Cornish’s South London sci-fi ‘Attack the Block’ and his witty, British, childish humour has only grown stronger over the years. However, it’s not all fun and games as behind the magical action scenes where kids are sparring with trees and undead fiery horsemen, is perhaps a not so subtle commentary on the divisions within Britain and our struggle to find stability in a leader. While this makes a trip to the cinema a fun reminder of Brexit for the whole family, hope is also provided through the empowering message that kids are the future, and, while it might not always be a demon with a sword that they have to fight, as long you are kind and chivalrous things will always turn out right.
A refreshing feature of the film is Cornish’s complete comfort with allowing his characters to be completely ordinary. While the protagonists are surrounded by incredible feats of magic and fantasy, the majority of them are not inherently magical or special. In fact, it is this typicality that makes them perfect for the quest they must undertake. It is a clever demonstration to kids and adults alike that we do not always need a billionaire parent or royal ancestors to be able to change the world.
One of the more magically inclined characters, Merlin, is an outstanding reworking of the classic character played by Angus Imrie and Patrick Stewart. In this re-telling of the story, Merlin ages backwards and can transform between three different forms, an owl, a bright-eyed teenage boy and his arguably ‘true’ older form. The character is often seen casting duplication and mind control spells with a series of finger snaps and hand claps, providing moments of comedic relief. Patrick Stewart’s four short cameos make us take the film that little bit more seriously but felt like an afterthought in comparison to Imrie’s fleshed out characterization.
While the film does target a younger audience, there is nothing stopping audiences of all ages finding enjoyment from this film. With a run time of 2 hours, it may be difficult for little kids to sit through, but the story is engaging and well told. Fun for all the family and for you and your friends, ‘The Kid Who Would Be King’ is an exciting film that teaches audiences that you can write your own legends and be your own hero making the changes you want to see in the world.
Image credit: Kerry Brown / Variety.com